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My Garden Diary

July and August 2016

Copyright © 2016 by David E. Ross

Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. This diary is primarily for my own benefit, so that I can look back upon what I did and when. But I thought others might also be interested, so here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?


January-February 2013
March-April 2013
May-June 2013
July-August 2013
September-October 2013
November-December 2013
January-February 2014
March-April 2014
May-June 2014
July-August 2014
September-October 2014
November-December 2014
January-February 2015
March-April 2015
May-June 2015
July-August 2015
September-October 2015
November-December 2015
January-February 2016
March-April 2016
May-June 2016

Diary entries for 2004 through 2012

Entries below are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.

When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold or appears as a link to another Web page.

Dates refer to other entries in the same year as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given. Dates without years, however, may refer to entries on prior pages for the same year.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
21 Aug

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 66-93
Humidity: 26%
Wind: 0-14

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 116

Fed the roses with a commercial fertilizer that also contains a systemic insecticide.

A new artichoke shoot (Cynara scoymus) has appeared! I thought the plant was dead, but it was merely dormant. I gave it a small amount of the fertilizer that I used on the roses to prevent spider mites, which can severely damage artichokes. Maybe next spring, we can get some edible buds. (Documented testing shows that the systemic insecticide in the fertilizer is harmless to birds and mammals.)

Weeded a portion of the paths near the intersection between the teardrop and circular beds in back. Although the decomposed granite is underlaid with landscape cloth to prevent roots from growing deeply into the ground, it was still necessary to use a paring knife to remove most of the weeds. The majority of the weeds were either grasses resembling crab grass or spotted spurge. Every grass weed had to be picked up; otherwise, a supposedly dead grass plant dropped where there is just the slightest bit of moisture will send out new roots and continue growing. Spurge is even more difficult because, once the plant is large enough to see, it has likely dropped new seeds.

The "mother" lavender (17 Jul & 10 Aug) in front is not well. Only two main branches remain alive. I cut away all the dead branches. Although the remaining two branches have vigorous new growth, I am concerned that the plant is dying. I call this the "mother" lavender because all of the other five lavender bushes in my garden were rooted cuttings from this one.

A Camellia sasanqua in back died (27 Mar). A C. japonica should also be replaced. Replacing these is a task for October, when most of the hot weather is gone.

12 Aug

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 61-89
Humidity: 40%
Wind: 1-14

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 107

Trimmed dead growth from the "mother" lavendar in front. I also trimmed away some of the live growth to reduce the plant's demand for moisture.

I do not remember whether this was when we had our house tented to eliminate termites (Dec 2015) or when we had the exterior painted (Jun 2016), but many of the leaves in my compost pile had been bundled by a contractor's crew in a plastic tarp. I finally undid the tarp and then thoroughly wet the pile.

While grooming the roses in back, I discovered a large root sucker on the 'Arizona' rose bush. I could not pull it loose (usually the best way to ensure it does not grow back), so I had to cut it below the soil near the root that produced it.

Trimmed some of the dwarf holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii Nana') in the rose bed that seemed to be interfering with the shrub sprinklers. I also trimmed some branches from my dwarf lemon, which I was concerned was outgrowing the ability of its roots to supply moisture to it foliage. I was careful to avoid cutting any branch that had ripening fruit.

10 Aug

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 58-87
Humidity: 36%
Wind: 0-10

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 105

Raked leaves in front — again (24 Jul)! I think a combination of the ongoing drought and a recent heat wave is causing my oak to drop its leaves early. In most years, I would not be raking in front this often until October or November.

Cut back the striped Dracaena in the greenhouse window. After trimming the top, I potted it in an attempt to get a rooted cutting. With Dracaena, however, I have more success with the stumps sprouting. The cutting generally rot instead of rooting.

Cleaned the areas between the airconditioner on one hand and the house and 'Pride of Dorking' azalea bed on the other. Put down some pea gravel and realigned the bricks that are supposed to keep Cleopatra from getting behind the airconditioner.

Not all the wilted growth on the "mother" lavender (17 Jul) recovered. I am giving the plant another slow soak.

3 Aug

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 61-88
Humidity: 40%
Wind: 0-7

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 98

The pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum 'Aureum') cuttings (24 Jun) now have good roots, so I potted them in the pot that hangs in the blue bathroom on the upper floor of our house.

Tied down some new canes of the climbing 'Peace' rose and removed some others.

Removed many new shoots on the loquat tree. These are always promoted by pruning the tree (15 & 22 Jun). The ones I removed were growing where I do not want new branches. I did keep some new shoots, which will replace existing branches when I prune the tree next year.

Fed the dwarf citrus and gardenia with commercial citrus fertilizer plus some pinches of zinc sulfate.

24 Jul

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 71-93
Humidity: 18%
Wind: 2-15

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 79

Since my previous diary entry, we have had five days when the temperature exceeded 95°F, three of those days exceeding 100°F. Because of such high temperatures and the ongoing drought, the oak in front has dropped many leaves. I raked and swept the driveway, public sidewalk, and brick path to the front door. Today, I finished another slow soaking of the soil around the tree.

Raked the paths in back to remove some debris left when I trimmed the edges.

Fed the roses — front and back — with ammonium sulfate.

The drip emitter for the dwarf kumquat (Fortunella margarita 'Nagami') did not seem to flow. I discovered several holes in the feed tubing, likely from squirrels or other rodents seeking water. I spliced some new tubing between the emitter and the tubing out of the ground. It now works okay.

17 Jul

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 59-88
Humidity: 37%
Wind: 1-10

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 72

The 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender (Lavandula lanata × dentata) in the brick panel in front started to wilt. Although lavender is drought-tolerant, this had not received any water in over two months. Over the past few days, I gave it, the valley white oak (Qurecus lobata), and the rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) deep soakings with a slightly trickling hose. Unlike native western oaks — oaks "planted" by nature and not humans — my valley white oak had its taproot removed while still a seedling. Thus, summer water — fatal to native wester oaks — is not a problem for my oak.

Climbed part-way up My Hill to adjust the CDs that I hung from the grape vines (22 Jun). While they might have kept birds away, they did nothing to stop squirrels or raccoons. On my 'Perlette' grape vine, only one small bunch of ripe grapes remained; I had them with lunch. While on My Hill, I also cut down several seedling trees. Many of them were actually new shoots from seedlings that were previously cut down.

Rubbed away some new shoots on the loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica 'MacBeth') that were starting to grow where I do not want any branches. The tree constantly produces new shoots all over its main limbs and trunk.

Re-tied a cane on the 'Dublin Bay' climbing rose. The twine that I used when I pruned this rose (21 Jan) had degraded and broke.

Trimmed the edge of that path between the teardrop, camellia, and east beds in back. Most of this involved trimming the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) and Cuphea hyssopifolia in the teardrop bed, but I also pruned some 'George Taber' azaleas in the camellia bed that were growing over the path. This completed all the trimming along the paths in back.

13 Jul

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 60-92
Humidity: 35%
Wind: 0-14

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 68

Fed the dwarf citrus with a commercial citrus food plus a large pinch of zinc sulfate. I also fed the gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii') with the same but more generously.

Trimmed the third and last heavenly bamboo. The first one I trimmed is now quite small, but it no longer looks like it was attacked with a hachet.

Harvested some dill (Anethum graveolens) from its flower pot (1 Apr) and put it to dry on a rack in our dining room.

Trimmed the edges of the path in back between the lawn and the teardrop bed.

4 Jul

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-84
Humidity: 18%
Wind: 0-14

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 59

The heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) that I severely trimmed (29 May) is now looking good, so I decided to trim the other two. I did one today, nearly filling the green trash bin for garden waste (collected for the county's composting program).

Trimmed more edges of the paths in back, this time opposite the circular bed both along the rose bed and small brick patio and also along the lawn.

1 Jul

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 59-86
Humidity: 46%
Wind: 1-11

Trimmed the rest of the edges of the path in back between the rose bed and the lawn.

Rain —
This season: 9.08
Days since last: 56

Weather data are from the Cheeseboro (CHE) weather station, about 2 miles ENE of my house.

The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the previous night.

Winter chill is the cumulative hours of temperatures at or below 45°F from 1 November through 31 March. It is reported during that period and through April.

The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)

Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before the end of the day). I also indicate peak wind gusts parenthetically when they are significantly high.

Rain is in inches. Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall from 1 October until 30 September of the following year (our "rain-year"). Week is the cumulative amount of measurable rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no measurable rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.

Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter. Also, a day that would normally be characterized as "mild" might instead be "warm" if the immediately previous days were quite cold. Finally, such characterization reflects when I was actually outside and gardening and ignores changes that occur while I am inside.

The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:

Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
See also My Climate.
May-June 2016
March-April 2016
January-February 2016
November-December 2015
September-October 2015
July-August 2015
May-June 2015
March-April 2015
January-February 2015
November-December 2014
September-October 2014
July-August 2014
May-June 2014
March-April 2014
January-February 2014
November-December 2013
September-October 2013
July-August 2013
May-June 2013
March-April 2013
January-February 2013

Diary entries for 2004 through 2012


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